A LaPerm in full coat that is in good physical condition, parasite free and eats a healthy diet should have a great coat of pleasant texture and clear colour. A good grooming regime will help to show off the cat’s assets to the maximum advantage.
General maintenance grooming for LaPerms is very easy and the amount of attention required to keep them looking good is minimal. LaPerms are not as prone as other rex breeds to the excess sebum production that can lead to gunky ears and eyes. However individual cats vary so some cats may benefit from a gentle wipe inside the ears and around the eyes with a lightly moistened cotton wool ball. Cotton buds, or Q tips, should only be used with caution as they can cause pain if accidentally poked into the eye or ear canal. If a cat has black specs of chin acne then rub them gently with cotton wool lightly moistened with either a little water or a small drop of olive oil. For the coat, simple hand-grooming, or an occasional comb through should suffice, with more regular attention needed for a moulting cat. The type of comb to use with a LaPerm is a wide toothed comb with revolving teeth. This type of comb can move through the coat without pulling at the hairs. This is important because LaPerm hair is more delicate and more easily pulled out than normal cat hair, and because a narrow toothed comb would pull the curls straight.
Getting ready to be groomed
If a LaPerm moults it does not generally shed hair all over the place. In fact the curls tend to hold dead hair in the coat which can contribute towards matting. LaPerms are not generally prone to matting but this can happen at times when the cat is moulting heavily. Some LaPerms never seem to have significant seasonal moults, but cats that spend time outside, especially stud cats may be more affected. At these times more regular grooming is required.
LaPerm hair grows out from the body and does not lie flat, so you can comb the coat in both directions to ensure that you have untangled it and made it stand out. Pay particular attention to the ruff and the tail where the coat is longer.
Many LaPerm owners prefer to keep their cats’ nails trimmed. This helps to keep down wear and tear on the furniture and carpets and also avoids accidental scratches as a cat jumps on or off a person. It is important to get kittens used to a grooming regime from an early age, and this is especially true of nail trimming. It is sometimes easier to use human nail clippers on very small kittens, but cat nail clippers should be bought from a pet shop or cat show for older kittens and cats. Smaller clippers are best and the larger kind can be too big to use effectively.
Some cats do not mind having their nails trimmed and will co-operate nicely with their owners, but most are not too keen. If you find it difficult to trim your cat’s nails try sitting in a comfortable chair or kneeling on the floor and holding the cat gently but firmly between your thighs. This leaves your hands free to see to the paws. Check the paws to make sure there are no injuries of matted clumps of fur between the toes. Press the paw pads, pinching them gently between the fingers and thumb of one hand to extend the claw out of the nail bed. Hold the trimmers in the other hand and cut off the sharp tip of the nail. Do not cut too far up the nail as you will hurt the cat if you cut into the quick which contains nerves and a blood supply. The quick is the pink section inside the nail and is reasonably visible in most cats, with the exception of those with darkly coloured feet. While you are doing this make sure that there is no gunk or dirt stuck to the nail. If there is you can gently scrape it off with you own finger nail, but take care not to scratch the skin of the nail bed. Active cats, or those who are very fond of using their scratching posts will need to have their nails looked at more often.
A useful grooming tool for the LaPerm owner’s cupboard is a packet of cat grooming wipes. These are special wet wipes designed to be rubbed on cats’ coats and containing conditioning oils, which can be bought in pet shops and some supermarkets. They are useful when a cat gets a bit mucky and a quick, easy wash is needed. They can also be used to give a cat an occasional rub down to keep them looking good. With a LaPerm the wipes can be rubbed through the coat in both directions and scrunched into the coat to accentuate the curl. The moisture helps to clumps the curls together and give them more definition so they are a good way to spruce up a LaPerm coat.
Spritzing the coat with a fine mist of water and scrunching with your hands can also help give the curls a boost.
For some LaPerms a regular grooming session might be enough to get them in good enough condition to go to a show. However others, especially those with a fuller or longer coat, or lighter colours, may benefit from a bath.
A cat which as been used to baths as a kitten will tolerate them better, so a few quick dips for kittens can help them get used to the idea. It is sensible to start by trimming the claws as a cat who wants to escape from a bath might inadvertently scratch you.
There are two approaches to bathing a LaPerm. You can either have the action taking place in a sink, with plenty of bowl or buckets of water standing by for rinsing, or you can use a bath with a shower attachment providing a constant flow of water. An extra pair of hands is very useful, so if you can rope someone in to help you then do so. Start by wetting that cat right through, either by spraying them with your shower attachment or by dunking them into a large bowl of water. A splash of shampoo or washing up liquid mixed into the water can help it to break down the water resistance of the coat. Make sure that the water is at a good temperature before wetting the cat: warm, but not too hot. If using a shower attachment then make sure the temperature has stabilised before starting as your cat will not appreciate it if the water turns cold half way through. Do not wet the cat’s head and keep the water spray or splash away from the eyes and ears. The cat may feel more stable if it can cling to the back of the bath. Do not position them so that they are facing in the right direction to jump out, and make sure the door is closed!
Next you need to massage a good amount of shampoo into the coat. Rub it in well, not just stroking it over the top of the coat but massaging it down to the skin and ensuring that it gets to all areas such as underneath the tail and between the toes. The choice of shampoo partly depends on what is available. It is a good idea to experiment and see what works best on your cat’s coat. A mild baby shampoo is suitable and should not sting if any gets in the eyes. If your cat has a greasy coat or stud tail then washing up liquid can be used, either slightly diluted, or neat on offending areas. A specific cat shampoo bought from a pet shop or cat show is probably a good idea if in doubt. Bluing shampoos can be used on blue or white cats to enhance to colour, and apricot shampoos can enhance reds or creams. Under no circumstances should any dyes be used as this is against showing rules and can lead to disqualification. If you are going to a show where your cat will be handled a great deal, especially if a cat is on exhibition and will be touched by members of the public, then you could consider using a suitable shampoo which contains the special ingredient Zinc Pyrithione. This is antifungal and antibacterial, and is used in anti-dandruff shampoos such as Head and Shoulders.
Give a brief rinse to get most of the shampoo out before repeating the process with a conditioner. Conditioners made specifically for curly hair are ideal for LaPerms. Pantene Perfect Curls and Frizz Ease have been used with good results by LaPerm owners. After massaging the conditioner into the coat you will need to rinse extremely thoroughly to ensure that all traces are out of the coat and it literally feels squeaky clean when you rub your hand down your cat’s back. If you are relying on prepared buckets of warm water you could try a splash of vinegar in the first bucket to help disperse the soap and conditioner.
Once you are sure that you have rinsed thoroughly enough squeeze as much excess water as you can out of your cat’s fur before wrapping him or her in a towel and picking him up. Pat and rub the coat gently to remove as much water as possible. If you have not done so before the bath, take this chance to clean the ears and eyes. Do not brush or comb your cat at this stage and do not use a hair drier otherwise you will turn all the curls to frizz. Allow you cat to air-dry somewhere warm. Once they are totally dry there may be some areas that look a bit flat if the cat has been sleeping lying on one side. A quick spritz and scrunch or rub with wet hands or a wet-wipe should bring that coat to perfection. There are also some coat conditioning sprays available with a very slight amount of oil in them that can help prevent a coat from drying out and keep it looking shiny. If you use these, experiment with them well in advance of any show in case you end up with a well washed but greasy looking cat!
A show bath should not necessarily be the night before a show as some LaPerm coats need some time to settle down after a bath to look their best. Some cats may need to be bathed as much as three or four days before the show. You then have the challenge or making sure they don’t get mucky before the big day!
On the big day itself another spritz and scrunch or wet wipe rub first thing in the morning will help boost the curls. After a quick check to ensure eyes ears and rear end are clean and all claws are blunt you should be ready to go. Do not spritz the cat once you are at the show though as you do not want the coat to be wet when judging starts.
Good luck if you are grooming a cat in preparation for a show.